04/06/2016 21:37 EDT | Updated 04/07/2017 01:12 EDT

Swimmer Kylie Masse breaks Canadian mark twice in one day to book Olympic ticket

TORONTO — Kylie Masse showed in the morning heats that she was in top form at the Olympic Trials.

She raised the bar even higher in the 100-metre backstroke final Wednesday night to book her ticket for the Rio Games.

Masse started the day by breaking the Canadian record with a time of 59.17 seconds at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. She trimmed the mark a little more in the evening with a 59.06, over a second faster than the Olympic qualifying standard.

"I felt good (after the heats) but I felt like I had a little more in me still," she said.

Dominique Bouchard of North Bay, Ont., also earned a Rio spot with her second-place finish in 59.96.

In order to be nominated for the national team that will compete at the Games, the qualifying standard must be reached and a top-two finish is required.

Masse, from Lasalle, Ont., broke the mark of 59.68 set by Sinead Russell in July 2011. She was hoping to perfect a lot of the smaller details in her race for the final. 

"I don't think this morning that I was expecting that," Masse said. "I was shocked to see what I (raced). But it was more incentive to go faster and see what I could do tonight knowing that it's a final and Olympic trials.

"The atmosphere and the environment makes it even more exciting. I think that helped a lot."

There were a few hundred vocal fans on hand for the evening competition. The venue also hosted last year's Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

Sydney Pickrem and Emily Overholt finished one-two in the women's 400-metre individual medley to lock up spots for Rio. Pickrem, a dual citizen from Oldsmar, Fla., finished in four minutes 38.34 seconds while Overholt, from West Vancouver, B.C., was right behind in 4:38.50.

The men's swimmers were shut out on the opening day but Toronto's Javier Acevedo ended the qualification drought with a time of 53.67 in the 100-metre backstroke.

"Surreal. It's the biggest moment. I stepped up to the plate," he said. "I was able to get to the wall first and now I'm the first male qualifier for Rio."

Calgary's Russell Wood was second in 54.47, just off the needed qualifying time of 54.36. Mack Darragh of Oakville, Ont., was first in the 200-metre butterfly in 1:58.22, but well off the Rio standard of 1:56.97.

Competition continues through Sunday.

Penny Oleksiak of Toronto and Noemie Thomas of Richmond, B.C., booked their Olympic tickets on Tuesday. Oleksiak set a new Canadian record in the 100-metre butterfly and Thomas was second. 

Brittany MacLean of Toronto also qualified in the 400-metre freestyle. She took over a second off her own national record.

Due to the nature of the selection criteria for the Para-swimming team, all nominations for the Rio Paralympics will be announced after the competition wraps Sunday.

Katarina Roxon of Kippens, N.L., won the multi-class women’s 100-metre breaststroke on Wednesday night. The S9 swimmer was timed in 1:24.25.

Maxime Rousselle of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., won the multi-class men's 100-metre breaststroke in 1:11.44.

Tammy Cunnington of Red Deer, Alta., finished first in the women's 50-metre SB3 breaststroke in 1:16.28 and Jonathan Dieleman of Vancouver won the men's 50-metre breaststroke SB2-3 multi-class event in 50.93 seconds.

The Summer Olympics are set for Aug. 5-21 and the Paralympics will be held Sept. 7-18.


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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press